What is lichen simplex chronicus?

Lichen Simplex Chronicus
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Lichen simplex chronicus: Overview

Lichen simplex chronicus is a skin problem that starts with a very itchy patch of skin. If you have been rubbing or scratching your skin a lot, the patch of skin can get thicker and may look like leather. For some people, the patch is also painful.

Some people find that stress makes their symptoms worse. Reducing stress, or finding ways to cope with it, may help reduce the itching.

Your doctor may try to find out what's causing your itchy skin. Causes can include conditions such as psoriasis or eczema. Or it may have started if you had an insect bite that was itchy.

To treat lichen simplex chronicus, your doctor will try to stop the itching. The doctor may prescribe prescription cream or ointment. The medicine stops the itching. But if scars have formed, they may fade but won't go away completely.

If another problem is causing the itching, your doctor may suggest separate treatment for that problem.

How can you care for yourself when you have lichen simplex chronicus?

  • Be safe with medicines. If your doctor prescribed a cream or ointment, apply it exactly as directed. Call your doctor if you think you are having a problem with your medicine.
  • If itching affects your sleep, ask your doctor if you can take an antihistamine that might reduce itching and make you sleepy, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl). Read and follow all instructions on the label.
  • Wash the affected area with water only. Soap can make itching worse. Gently pat the area dry.
  • Apply a moisturizer after bathing. Put it on while your skin is still damp after lightly drying with a towel. Use a cream such as Lubriderm, Moisturel, or Cetaphil that does not irritate the skin or cause a rash.
  • Cover the area with a nonstick bandage to help protect it.
  • Put cold, wet cloths on the area to reduce itching.
  • Try to keep cool. Heat can make itching worse.
  • If you have a lot of stress in your life, talk with your doctor about how you're feeling and how stress may be affecting you.

Lichen simplex chronicus: When to call

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have signs of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the area.
    • Pus draining from the area.
    • A fever.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • The area does not clear up after 4 to 6 weeks.
  • You do not get better as expected.

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The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.